Leader Newsletter January 2018 Part 2
A fruitful 2018
We often work hard to perform well and prove that we are the best. Being busy isn’t the same as being productive and godly. An ‘always busy’ lifestyle have many negative consequences; stress, anxiety and an identity determined by what you do and not to whom you belong.
Much of our anxiety and stress is the result of our efforts at trying to prove to everyone that we are achievers. We forget Jesus’ words in John 15:5-6 so quickly: I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. The Lord is our source of life and without His life flowing through us, we have no life. The Lord asked us to live and rest in Him and to trust him. Who am I to try to do more? Of course, you shouldn’t twiddle your thumbs and do nothing. But instead of working all the time, we are allowed to rest. From our rest, our work will flow from love for God.
How can we break the cycle of constantly seeking approval?
1. Just say no
We all tend to say ‘yes’ more often than ‘no’ – and we and our families suffer because of it. If you say ‘no’, you set boundaries on your time and then you can focus on what is really important.
2. Plan free time
Sometimes we plan a week away from work, but we still see people. This disappoints your family, whom you were supposed to spend time with.
3. Ask for help
We often try to run a ministry race on our own – and then wonder at our frustration. When last did you ask for help? Pray to God first and then look at who He placed around you. Leaders use those that God sent to them.
4. Find your identity in Christ
The fixed element in our lives as followers of Christ is the new life that He gave us. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10).
Can we achieve more by doing less? Instead of trying to prove that we aren’t lazy, we should stay in the Lord – in a place of rest and trust. We have nothing to prove; we only have the Lord to serve. He loves us and wants us, His children, to live productive, but not busy, lives.
I want to read more this year
Reading is a key component of personal growth and development. When you read, you learn new things, update your thoughts and improve your leadership.
Here are ten rules to ensure you read more books this year:
1. Keep a record
Make a list of what you’ve read. If the list is short, it motivates you to read more. If it is long, you will want to read even more.
2. Change formats
Jump between printed, audio- and ebooks.
3. Watch less television
There are only 8 765.82 hours in a year. If you only make provision for sleep, your family and your job, do you really have time left for television? You can’t read and watch television at the same time.
4. Social media
Facebook is the enemy of printed books. Get rid of most of your social media.
5. Always take books with you
Read while you wait. Read while you walk and even while you drive (audiobooks, of course!)
6. Follow your whims
Alan Jacobs (The Pleasure of Reading in an Age of Distraction) says ‘reading at whim’ is an overarching principle. Let your curiosity, taste and passion lead our eyes. In this way, you will read more of what you like, and like more of what you read.
7. Vary your genres
Sometimes you read about one topic for a month. Then you should read something completely different to break the cycle.
8. Read different books at the same time.
You should read various books. The subjects should vary. With such a variety, there is bound to be at least one book you will want to read.
9. Look for suggestions
One way in which social media is helpful, is when it makes suggestions on what to read. Ask your friends, colleagues, mentor and others what they read. Thousands of books are published every year. No individual can read all the books there are on a given topic.
10. Stop at any time
Some books are boring. There are millions of books available. Life is too short to read boring books! Abandon any book at any time.
Leadership and conflict
Leadership requires, amongst other things, the resolution of conflict. There is a huge difference between talking to someone and talking about someone. Yet, the church is full of people talking about each other instead of talking directly to each other.
We develop unhealthy reactions if we try to avoid conflict; We avoid communication; we try to avoid the person; we get as many people as possible to support us; we ignore the conflict as far as possible. Keeping quiet is not an option for church leaders. Jesus said that the peace makers are blessed, because they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).
Communication is difficult. Because the process of handling conflict is so difficult, we don’t get much credit for it. If you want to resolve the conflict, you must face the pain of helping people to communicate with each other.
Leaders should be dedicated to resolving conflict. Most people can resolve conflict if they are willing to endure the pain. Even when you realise that it will be painful, you should step in as soon as possible – don’t allow the situation to deteriorate. It requires guts to step in early.
Once you’ve taken the first step, you’ll be surprised by what follows. You should know your culture and audience very well. Once you’ve done that, you should step in as quickly as possible and handle the conflict. There are too many leaders who prefer to avoid conflict.
Here are four simple steps that will help leaders to handle conflict.
1. Reach understanding first
Leaders always listen. They build relationships through respect, involvement in the team member’s world and encouragement. You can’t walk into conflict without understanding.
2. Leave the agenda for a while
Sometimes we are in such a hurry to push the agenda through as soon as possible – even when people stand on opposite sides of the issue. The agenda can’t be implemented with conflict still hanging in the air. Sometimes we need to nurture the relationship first. Only then can the issue at hand be dealt with.
3. Take the step
Don’t generalise. If you don’t tell the team who you are talking about, you invite people to choose sides as a group. This is always much more difficult to handle.
4. Don’t pull back.
People are often so caught up in their own situations that they won’t immediately admit that there is a problem. The room becomes quiet and someone will try to shift the attention elsewhere. Don’t give up. Like a splinter stuck in your hand, it is sometimes necessary to work at it in order to get it out. It is painful, but well worth the effort.
Nobody likes to clear up conflict. We all yearn for harmony. Sometimes the only road to harmony is through a few potholes along the way.